Saudi women rev up to take the driving seat at leadership forum

Allowing women to drive is expected to have a positive impact on the Saudi economy. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 June 2018

Saudi women rev up to take the driving seat at leadership forum

  • The event follows two earlier Women in Leadership forums held in Riyadh and Alkhobar in March
  • YouTube star: most important thing Saudi women needed was not to feel pressured

Potential women leaders who met at a leadership forum in Jeddah heard rousing words from female role models who had already made it.

As the long-anticipated day when Saudi women will be allowed to drive approaches in June, the third Women in Leadership forum, organized by Abdul Latif Jameel Company, took place in Jeddah on Wednesday, at the Hussein Jameel conference hall. 

The event follows two earlier Women in Leadership forums held in Riyadh and Alkhobar in March.

The forum gathers Saudi female business leaders, decision-makers, and women who have achieved success to share their experiences and support other women to be effective leaders.

Guest speakers at the forum who shared their experiences included Njlaa Sifder, the president of Nafisa Shams Academy set up to train and empower women, Hisham Lari, general director of ride-hailing company Careem, Fatimah Batook, owner of Studio 55 gym, and Al-Anoud Yamani, professional make-up artist and trainer.

The host of the event Hatoon Qadhi, Saudi YouTube star, assistant professor and columnist, told Arab News: “Women in leadership is not a new topic, it has never disappeared, but it is now reviving again since women are to drive soon, so the event is gathering both women driving and women in leadership in all fields.”

Qadhi said that the most important thing Saudi women needed was not to feel pressured. 

“I can see a lot of pressure imposed on Saudi woman by media. There is a general feeling that is pushing women to believe that they have to do something special. However, what we always wanted and called for is that women should have a wider range of opportunities.

“Women should not get questioned about their own decisions and choices; she should not be asked to leave her comfort zone and do something she does not want to do. Real empowerment of women is to let them choose what pleases them for themselves.”

Fatimah Batook told Arab News: “Women were always in the driving seat, she was not physically driving, but she was leading her own life, and her family’s. She is a superwoman because no matter how little she had, she would always find a way to achieve what she aspires to.”

Batook added: “The Saudi woman needs to be bold, ready to take the first step, because there are so many fields that women do not exist in, and they need to prove themselves. She needs the courage and awareness of herself, who is she, where she belongs, and what values she was brought up with.”

One of the forum guests, Fatimah Al-Maghrabi, 45, told Arab News: “I came here with my daughters, I have enjoyed listening to the speakers and, I am truly excited to drive soon.”

Ibtihal Abdulrahman, 29, another forum guest, said: “As a social worker and a coach, I like to engage in activities and events taking place in my environment, especially when it is about driving.

“I strongly believe that women have the right to be independent and own and control their vehicles to be able to fulfill their own needs.

“I am excited to learn how to drive ... I believe it is a basic skill we all need to have.” 


Saudi Arabia bans livestock imports from Sudan and Djibouti over RVF fears

Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Arabia bans livestock imports from Sudan and Djibouti over RVF fears

  • Sample from one livestock shipment arriving from Djibouti was found positive of Rift Valley fever
  • Livestock imports from Somalia had earlier been banned, says Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has announced a ban on importing livestock from Sudan and Djibouti.

The ministry said the ban is a response to the announcement of World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) concerning documented cases of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Sudan. 

In addition, a sample from one livestock shipment arriving from Djibouti was positive and thus was not cleared.

According to the ministry, Saudi Arabia imported 5 million heads of cattle from Sudan and 700,000 from Djibouti during the last Hijri year, prior to the ban.

The spokesman for the ministry, Abdullah Abalkhail, said that alternative sources include GCC, Jordan, Uruguay, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Georgia, Portugal, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Romania, as well as Chinese Mongolia, Argentine, Brazil and the US.

These countries can hardly compete with African states, said Al-Jadani, due to prices, different weather and customer demand. 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Humaid Al-Jadani, a livestock merchant and a former member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce livestock committee, said 5 ships were about to arrive carrying up to 50,000 heads of cattle when the ban was announced, but were turned back.
  • He said that the Saudi market depends heavily on imports from Africa, specifically Sudan and Djibouti.
  • Prices have risen during the past two days by 30 percent and further rises are expected, said Al-Jadani.
  • Official reports from Sudan say that at least 135 cases of rift valley fever were documented in Sudan, in Kassala, Red Sea and northern Darfur. 

The domestic livestock, he added, covers the demand of a very low percentage of the market and the price of local sheep are very high.

All shipments are examined at their point of arrival and only healthy animals are allowed into the local market.

 

Regulations

The ministry has already banned livestock imports from Somalia.

“The ministry studies each country individually to put health regulations in line with the OIE and we follow up daily reports from the OIE to reduce the spread of the diseases among animals and people,” Abalkhail said.

Humaid Al-Jadani, a livestock merchant and a former member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce livestock committee, said five ships were about to arrive carrying up to 50,000 heads of cattle when the ban was announced, but were turned back.

He said that the Saudi market depends heavily on imports from Africa, specifically Sudan and Djibouti.

According Al-Jadani, prices have risen during the past two days by 30 percent and further rises are expected in the coming period.

The ministry has called on those working in the sector to contact officials on the hotline 8002470000 if they find any suspicious cases.

A fine up to SR1 million ($267,000) will be imposed on any company contravening the ban.

Official reports from Sudan say that at least 135 cases of RVF were documented in Sudan, in Kassala, Red Sea and Northern Darfur. According to the World Health Organization Sudan witnessed a huge RVF outbreak in 2007, while in Saudi Arabia RVF spread back in 2000.

The World Bank noted previously that six zoonotic diseases between 1997 and 2009 have led to a loss of $80 billion.

Officials believe that only through collaboration between various authorities in the health, biology and environment sectors the disease can be controlled.